When you’re in a car accident, the first thing that comes to mind is your safety and the safety of your passengers, especially if they’re your children. Next on your mind is the damage to your vehicle. Depending on your speed and a number of other factors, the damage may be less or more. If there is damage, your car insurance should kick in to some extent depending on your policy. But what is not clear is how long after the car accident you can file a claim. The following will offer you some guidance on this question.
In this article, Part 1 deals with the general rules surrounding claims, and Part 2 answers the question of what the outer limits are for filing claims.
Part 1 of 2: When should you file a claim after a car accident?
The good news is that not every “accident” you experience has to be reported, such as single-car minor incidents. If you back into your mailbox, for example, and you get a little scratch on the trunk, you don’t have to inform your insurance company. After all, even if you pay to have the body repaired, you likely would not exceed your deductible.
In other words, the insurance company would not even pay for it, and they may in turn raise your rates because you are seen as more likely to have a serious accident. In the end, for these sorts of very minor incidents you generally don’t have to make a claim. Refer to your policy and local laws for more information, and follow whatever is spelled out in these.
Major car accidents can happen in an instant, and before you know it you have a load of damage to your car. When these involve another driver, and you are at fault, your liability insurance will cover whatever the costs are to the other driver. Your comprehensive coverage will cover your vehicle in such an event.
The best advice is to file a claim immediately, even at the scene of the accident. Make sure your insurance information is in your vehicle or saved on your phone, and make contact with the insurance company to file a claim. If your insurance has an app for claims, you can use that, or you can talk to a person if you’d rather. Your best bet is to do this right away.
Make sure that you and the other driver call the police to take down the details of what happened, so both insurance companies can get an accurate report.
Part 2 of 2: Know the outer limits of when you can file a claim
The short answer is that the exact length of time you have to file a claim will depend on your policy. Your policy paperwork should specify this, but you can always call your insurance agent and they should be able to let you know. There definitely is a time limit, but the exact amount of time is specific to your policy.
In general, though, you don’t have all that long to file a claim. The reasoning behind this is that any damage you have is likely to be worsened as time goes by, meaning that insurance will have to pay out more on your behalf. So, the closer to the accident, the more likely it is that whatever damage you have is a direct result of the accident.
Some amount of leeway is reasonable, but if you get in an accident and then three years down the road you decide to report it and want insurance to cover some damages, how will anyone know that the damage actually came from the accident rather than your neglect or wear and tear? The wisest course of action is to file the claim as soon as you can.
Knowing how long after a car accident to file a claim is as simple as consulting your policy and acting quickly. You want to get all the money you pay for in your monthly premium, so don’t delay and risk forfeiting it. Diligence is key.